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Remember broadband ten years ago?
Wednesday 25 February 2009 12:36:09 by Andrew Ferguson

The broadband industry has only been going for ten years if you exclude the leased line market. 1999 saw the first cable areas getting cable broadband and a few lucky people involved in early BT Interactive trials got their hands on 2Mbps ADSL.

"Now we’ve reached the point where losing your connection or just being in ‘slowband land’ can be incredibly frustrating. Fast internet access has changed the way we listen to music, watch TV, stay in touch with our friends, shop and plan our lives,... It has touched every corner of our lives not just everyone’s life."

Tim Johnson, Point Topic

Point Topic has issued a press release charting the progress of Broadband Britain from novelty to necessity. Which in light of the recent comments from Lord Carter that the Universal Service Obligation is about ensuring people have access to online services.

Region % of population in reach of 8Mbps and above % in reach of 2 to 8Mbps Out of range of 2Mbps thinkbroadband speedtest average
East Midlands 66% 18.7% 15.2% 3708Kbps
East of England 65% 20.1% 15% 3289Kbps
London 93% 5.8% 1.2% 4544Kbps
North East 63.5% 20.7% 15.8% 3906Kbps
North West 72.2% 17% 10.8% 3850Kbps
South East 66% 20.6% 13.5% 3508Kbps
South West 53.7% 26.4% 19.9% 3192Kbps
West Midlands 76.6% 13% 10.4% 3966Kbps
Yorkshire and Humber 60.5% 23.4% 16.1% 3468Kbps
Northern Ireland 38.7% 29.1% 32.2% 2696Kbps
Scotland 57.4% 27% 15.6% 3229Kbps
Wales 38.4% 34.7% 26.9% 2939Kbps
Percentage of population by speed range

The table above is probably a picture that is played out in the majority of countries where broadband is available, your capital city will have great coverage but as you venture to the less populated parts the options for broadband decrease and the percentage getting below the proprosed USO increase. In some ways the table from Point Topic when viewed in conjunction with our own regional speed test results shows the real world situation for people.

"The main way to provide 2 megabits in slowband areas will be to invest in bringing fibre to BT’s street cabinets, he says. FTTC (for fibre-to-the-cabinet) is the key next-generation access technology which will support download speeds of 40Mbps or more. So the apparently cautious requirement for 2Mbps will help to provide financial support and a market driver for next-generation access. "

Tim Johnson, Point Topic

We would like to share the optimism of Point Topic in that services like Fibre to the Cabinet are the future and could introduce speeds of 20Mbps to 50Mbps being available to the majority. Perhaps a lot of the press coverage and talk from mobile broadband providers was down to the recent trade fair in Spain, but the signs suggest that mobile, as in 3G and 4G, is almost the preferred solution to satisfy the USO. That is certainly how plans for 100% broadband coverage in Ireland are evolving, although a satellite solution is also being used in the hard to reach areas, covering around 8% of the country. The regional statistics, as they are fairly large areas, can mask much more local stories such as Tessdale in the Pennines where currently only 40% can get up to 2Mbps.

Interestingly Openreach released a briefing on a method of broadband enabling very long lines (80dB attenuation or higher - which is thought to account for 160,000 telephone lines in the UK) with a service supporting a 1Mbps connection. The cost per line working out at £1000 to £3000.

Where will the UK be in ten years time? With or without government intervention we expect that 70% of the UK will have speeds of 32Mbps or more available. The remaining 30% is less certain and this is where the USO comes into play. If it is specified such that the implementation lends itself to easy and cheap upgrades as the utility needs for access to digital services changes then all well and good. If it turns into the current USO, where 28Kbps is still considered functional Internet access then we will be having the same debates in 2018/2019.


Posted by audioslim over 8 years ago
And cant you tell that Lord Carter doesnt have a clue about technology, or in particular has never had to endure the rubbish that is mobile broadband.

Its only good for web browsing, and that is up for debate as well!

Posted by citizenx over 8 years ago
I'm sure BT was testing DSL back in 1994 Andrew...
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 8 years ago
It's afaik unfortunate that they're focusing on speed and not access speed - dialup, satelight and 3G technologies are on one level here, and ADSL, Cable and ISDN an entirely different one (when they work right, hi VM!)
Posted by sarcy over 8 years ago
I first got DSL (or not) with back in 2002. Am i old school?
Posted by chrysalis over 8 years ago
I got adsl in 2000, was first customer on exchange. In those days adsl was sold as a service with selling points such as suitable for heavy downloading.
Posted by whatever2 over 8 years ago
got the BT installed plate at my house... which is a pain as it means I can't move the router.

still got the frog... worked out what the blank empty envelopes were for about a year later.
Posted by jchamier over 8 years ago
September 1999, 512kbps/128kbps cable. Everyone I knew was amazed. Now on BE with 18mbps/2mbps, and quite happy for now. Ten years is a long time!
Posted by e102gamma over 8 years ago
To be honest, even though I'm on 8Mb now, I don't actually use the internet a great deal differently to when I was on 56K. Broadband is wasted on me. xD
Posted by GAZar over 8 years ago
I still wish I was one of the lucky few who could get a 2Mb connection.

Living in the dark ages here.. 512k!!
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 8 years ago
While people are free to make comments against people mentioned in articles we suggest that they keep the language out of the gutter.
Posted by jawn2k5 over 8 years ago
I can remember being accepted onto the trial of 2Mb ADSL with Demon Internet back in early 1999

I had a free 2Mb line for about a year, it did have various problems during the year, but that was just teething problems, back then i had 2 x powered boxes on the wall(one was Alcatel, cant remember the other) which were then connected to one of those lovely cream BT modems.

I presume the ADSL filter has taken over from those 2 boxes?
Posted by chefbyte over 8 years ago
Cant believe its been 10 years since the end of my street was cabled but they refused to come down my part as it was classed as a private road. So that prompted me to campaign for broadband and won a major award for it. Some days I wonder why I bothered, as I get some real speed differences all the time. Today I am on 500K and yet last night at the same time, I was on 7.5MBs... ah well for the good and benefit for all I still feel my campaign was worth it for all so they can enjoy BB.
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